In a recent issue of MXP Magazine, we not only featured 2014 Canadian MX1 Motocross Champion Colton Facciotti on the cover, but we also looked back to Mike Harden’s unbelievable 1984 500cc Canadian MX Championship. These two championships for Honda Canada are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Honda and winning titles in Canadian motocross. In the 1990’s it was Carl Vaillancourt and Marco Dube who rode a Honda to their Championships. From 2001 to 2006, it was Blackfoot Honda’s Jean Sebastien Roy and Dusty Klatt who reaped the rewards of riding red. Fast forward to 2016 and it’s the Honda Canada Fox GDR Racing Team of Colton Facciotti and Jeremy Medaglia looking to add to Honda’s rich history of success on the track. We would like to welcome Honda Canada as a proud new supporter of this Monday Gate Drop column. If you want to see all of Honda’s line up for 2016, just log onto www.motorcycle.honda.ca.
Good day and welcome to the final Monday Gate Drop of the month of June. We are now halfway through 2016 and what a year it has been so far. In recent weeks we’ve seen not only a lot of incredible action at the Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals, but also a record number of our top amateur riders qualify for the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National in July. Word also came down last week about this fall’s Canadian National AX Tour Series as Justin Thompson’s group released their 2016 schedule. After a great first season of AX in 2015, this year’s series promises to be bigger and better than ever. With stops in Montreal, Barrie, Sarnia, Moose Jaw, Penticton and Calgary, this exciting series is touching down in almost every region of this Country. Whether you’re a pro rider or an amateur rider, this series is a must race for everyone. Finally, considering this series runs from the beginning of October to the early part of November, it’s makes for a perfect bookend to your season. From what I hear there will be an even larger contingent of top pro riders participating in this years series, names like Cole Thompson, Kaven Benoit, Tyler Medaglia, Dylan Wright, Jess Pettis and Colton Facciotti have all been mentioned, as well as a few top American AX riders. It should be fun and it all kicks off on October 1st in Montreal.
So with some pretty awesome indoor racing on the horizon, let’s turn our attention to the incredible outdoor racing that is going on right now. Yesterday I traveled West to Regina for round four of the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals. Because of wife’s accident a few weeks ago and me having to be home as much as possible, I wasn’t able to travel on Friday as I usual do. In fact, I almost wasn’t going to go to Regina until I received some help from Steve Anderson to get me in and out of Regina in the same day. Steve has been assisting Cole Thompson’s Dad Kevin in getting to and from each Western round, so I simply joined in and we flew to Regina on Sunday morning, took in the race and were all back in Toronto late Sunday night. Steve called it a ‘turn and burn’ and that phrase seemed to stick with us all day. As I write this I’m actually back on a plane and headed to California for the press launch of the all new 2017 KX250-F. This new Kawasaki 250F has many of the new features that this years new 450F has, including a much slimmer design through the seat and tank, as well as a much lighter weight. The test ride is taking place at Zaca Station which is located about 40 minutes North of Santa Barbara. It’s one of the best tracks in California and it’s always prepared perfectly for these press launches. Now, back to what happened in Regina.
I must say that even though I’ve only been to Moto Valley Raceway three times in my life (and one of those it rained all day), when we drove into the track yesterday, the place looked great. Vender row was busy with people, the Toyota test drive track was obvious a popular spot, and the track itself was in perfect condition. With the overcast sky and the cool temperatures, the moisture was able to stay in the dark soil all day and it did make for very good racing in both classes. It was definitely the best Regina National that I’ve ever seen and all the people in the pits that I spoke were pretty pumped on the event.
In the MX1 class it was Davi Millsaps who once again dominated both motos. Even though he only got one practice session in because of a fork failure in his first practice, Millsaps was still able to learn the track quickly and leave everyone else behind. The aggression that Millsaps displays on the opening lap of each moto is something that has to be seen to be believed. Whether he starts in first, second or in third, Millsaps has one thing in mind and that is to get to the front as quickly as possible. It’s almost like he only puts one tear-off on his goggles and doesn’t wear a chest protector. Yesterday in both motos, Mike Alessi and Kaven Benoit were able to keep Millsaps in sight, but they were forced to chase the red plate holder yet again before the first lap was complete. It will be very interesting to see if Millsaps can pull off these same heroics on some of the upcoming rough East tracks. If he can and if he doesn’t suffer any bad luck, the MX1 points lead is going to be tough to take away from him. However, as everyone knows, there are still twelve motos remaining and anything can happen.
In the MX2 class, it was a flu ridden Cole Thompson who ended up taking the overall win for the third week in a row. It definitely wasn’t the prettiest day for Cole and he spent much of it throwing up, but he was still able to get the job done. The heartbreak of the day obviously went to local fan favourite Shawn Maffenbeier. As you all know by now Shawn (as well as a few others) were docked ten positions for jumping on a red cross flag. And if that wasn’t enough bad luck for Shawn, in moto two his bike started to make some weird noises and then it quit all together. What probably should’ve been a dominating 1-1 day for Shawn in front of his family and friends, ended up being one that I’m sure he’d like to forget.
On the subject of this ten position penalty that reared it’s ugly head for the second time in a few weeks, I’m not sure what the solution is here? The talk in the pits was that all of the team managers are going to be talking this week to try and come up with a plan that they can take to the CMRC in hopes of coming up with some sort of mid-season revision. Whether it’s a reduction in the penalty to five spots instead of ten? I’m not sure what can be done, but after yesterday, it’s fairly clear that it has to be looked at. Anyway, this will certainly be a topic of conversation over this two week break as everyone heads East to prepare for Gopher Dunes!.
Well, that is it for me today as my plane is beginning it’s descent into LAX. I hope everyone has a great week and good luck to everyone who will be competing at both the WCAN in Lethbridge, as well as the final two rounds of the 2016 New Era Moto Park Cup. Two great events going on while this Country celebrates it’s birthday on Friday. Happy Canada to all of you and please ride safe!